After spending 3 months on this popular Indonesian island I have a good grasp of costs to live here. All of these numbers are just for a single retired man. No dog. No wife. No kids. Just me. Here we go with Bali cost of living… The cost to rent on this island, in popular areas, can be absolutely amazing low and can go up as high as “are you kidding me”. For example I booked a few hotel rooms, normally referred to as a “home stay”, for as little as 7 USD per night and this included breakfast!! I Read more…
As a retired expat living and travelling to several countries the question of “how safe is that area” is at the top of my list of needs and probably yours too.
For me, there is no point in living in a town with low-cost of living, clear sunny days and lots to do if you also have a much higher chance of being the victim of a violent crime. I am not the kind of person that worries a lot, if at all. I live my life by managing the risks. Life has plenty of risks without moving to a crime-ridden barrio in Mexico where known gang members operate. No need to worry, just don’t travel or live there! See, that was easy. Manage the risk, no need to worry.
Of course, areas of crime around the world and indeed inside each small town or big city are forever changing. So what was once considered a safe area of town in Mexico maybe now considered to be hell on earth. This is another reason why I am a huge advocate of renting instead of buying in your newfound paradise. Noisy neighbours next door..move! Drug cartel setting up a presence in your town and you need to sell your home and move fast? Good luck!!
Thailand, for many years, has been, or nearly always at the top of the list of “worst traffic fatalities in the world”. While Mexico has had the unfortunate accolade of one of the most dangerous countries to visit in terms of violence. So pick your poison if you choose to live in either country. Death by bus or bullet?
However, if you take a closer look at the situation there are a number of variables that we can all manage to mitigate most of this risk. In Thailand you never want to travel by bus at night, oftentimes the drivers are overworked and often take stimulants to keep them awake. Unfortunately, the stimulants stop working and the driver drives off the road or into an oncoming cement truck. Travelling at night, travelling in poor weather multiplies the chance of a traffic accident anywhere in the world, but especially in Thailand. Mini van drivers have horrible reputation for accidents and deservedly so. I was a passenger in one once. That was enough, never again. They often drive at very fast speeds and weave in and out of traffic. These things are totally illegal in Thailand but most traffic laws are NEVER enforced. Many foreigners in Thailand are killed while renting a motorbike ( called a scooter in many places), whether on holiday or an expat in Thailand. Riding drunk, not paying attention to other drivers, who are also not paying attention could get you killed or at the very least in a hospital for a few days. You need to be a confident and experienced rider in Thailand.
The drug cartel news stories are far more prevalent and well known than the atrocious traffic habits of Thailand. Perhaps they are much more sensationalized headlines, such as “Mexican cartel members vs military police shootout in Centro ” versus ” “15 dead in a bus crash in Thailand”. Mexico is certainly dangerous in many areas and situations. To manage the risk stay informed. By reading local news via social media or expat online news you will be armed with information that can mitigate the risks somewhat. Again driving on the roads ar night or taking a bus at night should be avoided. Visiting area where recent violence has occurred should be postponed or at the very least reviewed carefully. I suspect although I have no actual facts at hand, that 70% of the murders in Mexico are related to organised drug crime in one way or the other. If my guess is correct then most of Mexico is about as safe as most of the USA. I have no first hand knowledge of violent crimes in Mexico. Police shakedown for a few hundred peso bribe, yes and burglaries occasionally.
An interesting note about my own personal experiences with safety. Chiang Mai is known for being safe and not at all violent and yet the only murder I ever witnessed was in that city, just 6 meters from my dining table at the time. A very jealous and angry Thai wife hacked to death her foreign husband while he was chatting to a much younger girl in the bar across the street. In the same city I was also hit from behind by a car that sideswiped me as I was walking at 3 pm on the side of a small road in heavy traffic. The driver never stopped. The noise that is produced when a car hits a person is VERY load and yet she continued on her way at about 15 kph.
Your choice of a country or city to travel or retire to may not be discussed here, but the logic is still the same: do your reasearch, manage the risks and stay informed.
So, death either on a bus in Thailand or a drug cartels bullet is certainly a risk to be carefully considered. In my opinion, they are about the same risk in each country and managed sensibly will give you peace of mind, which finding paradise for less is all about.
I hope you enjoyed this article and encourage you to share it via social media and click the button on the left. All the best, John
You can not just waltz into Mexico and rent a home, stay for more than 180 days and call yourself a resident, well not legally that is. It takes paperwork and a little money and a whole lotta patience!!
Earlier this year (2012) the Mexican Government announced 2 major changes in their immigration program in order to become a Mexican Resident. First the income requirement were just about doubled from $1,200 a month to $2,300 a month. Second the process to apply MUST start outside the USA. The income also must come from outside of Mexico, so my USA Social Security qualifies in this regard.
The nitty-gritty: Keep in mind that whatever you are reading here and now has a good chance of being outdated at any time by the Mexican Government. In addition the person you are face to face with, either at your Mexican Consulate or Mexican immigration can really make or break what you are trying to accomplish. Thier mood can change from day to day.. and YOUR attitude can help things dramatically. First, TRY to at least say Buenos Dias and Holla when approaching the staff member, second- have ALL your document ready. ALL of them. Often times they need 4 copies of everything and guess what – they have no copy machine available to you.. so you will need these copies upon your arrival. Smile and be patient, do not appear in a hurry. After all, since you are retired what IS your big rush? Take a book, sit down relax and wait.
For the current rules on income, background checks etc etc please check HERE.
Now fast forward to today again and my surprise. I drove to the Consulate office and knew full well that my income was short but rationalized that “it would be just fine”. Crazy me. The 2 ladies at the front desk took a look at my income and it stopped right there.. no, I can not move to Mexico and I was basically handed my hat. So much for THAT dream. I sat in my car with the incredulous feeling and said out loud “oh great so my income isn’t even good enough to live in Mexico??!!”. I marched back in to the office.. and headed for a different area and spied a man in his 30’s that I felt I could appeal to. I began a conversation with him about my desire to live in Mexico and that surely my close to $2,000 monthly pension income would be sufficient in a practical sense. In an adjacent office I was aware of a man, well dressed, crisp white shirt who interrupted our conversation and in a really great Mexican accent asked “so you want to live in my country?” he introduced himself as the consul! He then invited me to Mexico and to return tomorrow and he would approve the application. Whewwwww.
Lesson learned: The Mexican consul has complete discretion as to who is approved and who is not. So if you are in in a similar quandary about your “lack” of income and you desire to move to any Third World country, don’t give up so easily..there are ways to make it happen! On the flip side, a high income and a poor attitude along with an ego the size of Mexico, you may not get to live in Mexico. Good luck to you all.